Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Week 2011

This week was a long one.  Not alot got done.  We did however find a Cambodian family and get a return appointment, get inside and have a lesson.  We talked to the mom in cambodian for awhile and then their young daughter came in and we talked in english to her.  Let me tell you, that girl knows way too much for how young she is.  She goes to 2 different churches and has just about a million questions that she tried to ask all at the same time.  Her main question is which church is true becuase she goes to the other churches and they bash on each other and so she is confused.  We gave her a Book of Mormon and said that we would come back and help her answer all of her questions.  I feel like I'm teaching a Joseph Smith type person.  Its really cool.  When we were leaving she went to turn on the tv but turned to us and asked, "should I read 'the book' or watch tv?"  Obviously we said if it were us, we'd read the book and so she flopped onto the couch and started reading.  I can't wait to go back to her house!

We met a less active member that was a referral from a ward member. Her name is M. She lived somewhere else and was baptized and loved the missionaries and always had them over.  Then they moved to Lowell and didn't know where the church was so they stopped going to church.  When we met them they were so nice and friendly and i feel like all they needed was an invite to church and thats all it took.  They came on sunday-the whole fam- and had a great time. It was way cool.  and now we have dinner with them tonight so that is another bonus.
We had tours this week with our zone leaders.  So Elder W, who is a Cambodian speaking missionary who moved out of the program because of leadership, came to Lowell and Elder A. went to Nashua for a day.  Elder W. is the "father" of Elder W. who is the "Father" of me (father=trainer) so we had 3 generations, kinda cool.  He is hilarious and we had a good time and had to go to court with him cuz a few months ago he got a traffic ticket that he wanted to fight.  Ha, just imagine 3 missionaries waiting to go to the court room.  Awesome.
The last highlight of this week was on Thursday we had Zone Conference with 2 other zones.  Elder Zwick of the 70 came and pretty much spoke to us for 7hrs with a 1 hour lunch break.  It was awesome.  Pres and Sis. Evans also spoke along with sister Zwick.  I forgot to bring my notes with me to the library so i can't tell you very much about what i learned but i was definitely spiritually edified and uplifted.  He told us that he had just spoken with President Monson before coming out and Pres Monson said that the missionaries out right now are the best we've had.  And so Elder Zwick loves to say "therefore what?"... and his answer was that if the prophet thinks so highly of you, you better meet up to the expectations.  It was really powerful.  he had so many cool stories about all the apostles and his mission pres was Elder Scott.  He also talked alot of the consolidation of the Connecticut mission.  President Evans said that the plan is to have a HUGE transfer in june/july when the missions combine and switch half of the people from connecticut to massachusetts and the other way around.  So alot of changes going on here and im excited for them.  Elder Zwick said that we need miracles to happen here in this area so "therefore what?"... go out there and make them happen.  This place is just ripe for miracles.  I also saw my friend A H from Pine View High School who is also serving here in Mass. english speaking.  Pretty cool stuff and such a small world we live in.
Speaking of which, get this: I got a letter from J J (cousin) this week that said that she had a roommate at college that goes to the Hyde Park YSA ward in the summers here in Lowell.  On Sunday i met her and she told me she was just in St. George visiting family last week.  Weird huh? Roommates with my cousin, in the ward im serving in, and was just barely in my home town.  I don't know about you but i think that is crazy.
On Saturday we went to a member's house and decorated easter eggs along with other families in the ward.  That was fun.  And on Sunday we had a great meal. Not your normal easter meal but actually a traditional Italian 3 course meal provided by some italian members in our ward.  It was way good.  We get to experience all types of food here in this widely diverse city.  Alright thats enough writing.  No luck with C.  Haven't seen him for a week :( but we keep going.  Thats all we can do, is keep moving forward.
I love you all so much!  thanks for being so wonderful!-

     Elder Brady Johnson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patriots Day April 19, 2011

OH man, so much to say and so little time.  Sorry about not writing first off.  Monday(yesterday) was Patriots Day, only celebrated in Massachusetts.  It is in memory of the start of the Revolutionary war.  But i will get to that in a bit.
So last monday night we did meet with a one of Paul Gooch's friend.  He is awesome.  I don't have time to tell about his history but he was a huge part in getting the cambodian mission started here in Lowell with Brother Gooch.  You can read more about him on in the June 1989 Ensign or new era titled Never Too Young. And you should read it cuz It is an amazing story.  Sadly, he has been innactive for awhile. But anyways we met him and his wife and they were so very nice.  His wife doesn't speak as much english so the whole time we were switching between english and Khmae.  We had such a good visit and me and him made such a connection between each other because i know the Goochs.  He just an awesome guy.  We had him tell us the whole story of how he met Paul and all of his experiences and he told us some cool stories.  He showed us a picture of him and Paul and Chantra's wedding when he was like 12. haha that was cool.  He has been to St George alot and loves it there so that was another thing to talk about.  We stayed for 2 hours! A bit long but it wasn't our fault, he wanted to keep talking.  His wife was very nice and liked talking to us in Khmae.   They have cute kids too. We shared a spiritual thought and he shared his favorite scripture with us.  And the best part was that he insisted on having us over for dinner on friday and of course we accepted. 
Friday at dinner with them, we sat on the ground like traditional Cambodians do it and it was the first time for me doing it cuz most cambodians are more Americanized and just use chairs and a table.  So that was cool, and painful for my legs ha. I was sore after.  Our hosts made fun of me for being in so much pain sitting with my legs crossed ha.  We ate soooooo much food!  It was great.  We also talked alot about different things and shared a spiritual message about familes and the importance of the gospel.  We are planning on teaching them some more the lessons.  it was another 2 hour visit but so fun and worthwhile.  we got another return appointment with them so that is good.  I love that family so much already and i just want them to have the blessings of the gospel in their lives soooo bad.  They are such good people.
Back to Tuesday, we had a zone meeting plus interviews with President Evans and it was great.  My zone is way cool and our leaders are awesome.  Oh and Elder M. from Snow Canyon basketball team is in my zone.  Which reminds me, Elder P in my district is from Delta and played soccer and he remembers our match last year haha.  Small world.  He was on the all state team with me i think.  Cool kid even if he is from Delta ha. President Evans is a good guy.  Love him already.  We had a good talk and I got some good guidance from him.  His job is stressful at the moment tho cuz in July we are absorbing the Connecticut mission.  So that will be huge.
M is not progressing but he still likes to meet with us and tells us he will come to church but then he doesn't show.  kinda frustrating.
I had my first run in with some real verbal opposition this week.  we met a man sitting on his porch and he started telling us to get out of our "parallel christian religion, throw away our books and find a real church and that Jesus was speaking through him warning us to repent and find a real church!" What a sad old man.  We were very polite to him but said you are very confused and good luck.  I felt so bad for him after we left. 
Yes mom i got your packages and they were fantastic! Thanks a bunch! i love you and so do my companions.  My goal now(especially cuz of all the food) is to get to 200 lbs and then i'll work it off haha.  ok so not really, but if i get to 200lbs it will be kinda cool. 
Oh ya something crazy happened!  We pulled into a street that we were gonna tract and we see two companionships of Jehovah's witnesses!  ya we were out numbered 4 - 3.  We almost decided to call in back-up from Team Portugal (the portugese/spanish elders) but then decided that it would probably be best to just find a different street.  we watched them for a bit and they can't get inside doors either ha.  That was pretty exciting haha
ok so Now to monday/Patriots day.  the whole mission got permission to take part in the events which for us included: waking up at 3:30 to drive to Lexington to watch a reinactment of the battle of Lexington where the first shot of the Revolutionary war aka "the shot heard around the world" took place.  There were tons of people surrounding a small grass field at 6:00am when Paul Revere came riding in on a horse and American soldiers in their blue coats were waiting for the "lobster backs" to come.  Great Britain came in huge numbers and then one shot was fired and the Revolutionary war began.  The americans got worked and had to retreat so that was a bummer but it was way cool seeing the guns and people dressed up and what not.  afterwards we and about 20missionaries had breakfast at a members house in Lexington and then went to the Boston Temple.  I LOVE THE TEMPLE! We got to do a session and it was so nice.  Next we drove to Boston, cuz the temple is in nearby Belmont.... and me and my companions played some soccer at a park with the ball that mom sent and then went down town via subway and got to watch the Boston Marathon!  We were right by the finish line and got to be there cheering and watching people complete an amazing feat.  I loved the atmosphere there at the finish line.  It was awe-inspiring.  A couple of elders got in and ran the last mile of the race and no one noticed haha.  We also walked around the wonderful city of Boston for a while.  I don't know what it is but i love that city.  It is just a great place.  Its just so beautiful and just has a good feel to it.  Now i understand Butch when he told me about Boston and just said it is just awesome.  It really is.
Quite exciting huh?  I sure thought so but was so tired by the end of the day.  We came back and did some major cleaning cuz we are getting our appartment inspected this week and it was a mess to say the least.  The last 4 weeks i have been cleaning a little bit at a time cuz i just couldn't stand how dirty everything was.  So yup im known as the clean one here.  But im ok with that and enjoy a nice clean place to live. Mom you should be proud :)
So besides those few but wonderful moments, last week was rough and not too successful but Some good always is found.  That is such a wonderful blessing from the Lord is continually providing just enough hope.  He really is always there.  the Khmae learning is going slow and is hard.  but i can feel myself improving just a tiny bit every week.  
Dad, way to go with all the mission efforts!  that is so cool that you are having mission experiences back home.  Keep telling me about them and share advice when you see something work really well. Keep up the good work!
Ok i got to go.  Dhills soccer keep tearing it up!  Brock score a goal :) 
Well i love you all so much!  Thanks for all your incredible examples!  Blake, congrats with graduating!   remember that you are always missionaries.  All of you are.  Don't be afraid to share the gospel.  And help the full time missionaries with referrals please!  That is one thing that members here are terrible at.  We get zero referrals most weeks.  ok bye!
ps. mom can you buy a book and send it to me please? its for learing cambodian and it is called "Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reading" by Franklin E. Huffman.  Thanks a bunch! 

     Elder Brady Johnson

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011

K just to answer your questions right off, There are currently 6 Elders that speak Cambodian.  2 are in Lynn 3 are in Lowell and 1 is in Nashua as a zone leader and he goes home at the end of this transfer.  There is usually always one cambodian elder in leadership at a time and they usually speak english when in different cities other than Lynn and Lowell.  Today for P-day we are just taking it easy- writing letters, doing some shopping, and what not.  I did a relaxing p day to catch up ha.  Oh and last p day we went to Boston and it was sweet!  we were right down town and i just love it.  It is so awesome there.  I wish i could serve right in the city.  We didn't do much but walk around and eat at a place called Al Capone's where i ate a 20 inch sub! Don't ask me how cuz i don't know haha.

Mom a package would be greatly appreciated!  haha make sure there are candy bars in there.  I've been craving those.  Just so you know, I am finally eating like a growing boy should be eating haha.  I eat so much here!  I don't know whats gotten into to me, but i just put food away.  It kind of worries me cuz i've gained weight.  i now weigh 187!  Im not too worried... i kinda want to get to 200lbs just to say i did it haha but don't worry i exercise every morning and i even got my companions to go out running... even if it was only for 10 mins and they both thought they were gonna die ha.  The weather here has been so beautiful the last 3 days.  Almost time for no suit jackets when tracting. 

Now for some updates.  We haven't seen our investigator very often this last week and he didn't come to church even tho he said he was, so that was a bummer.  He is still having a hard time but he keeps trying.  He is actually being a missionary himself by telling some friends about the gospel and giving us refferals. 

As for M, we still pass by every day and there he is standing outside his house just looking around.  We always give him a wave and he gets so excited.  He is always there to give us a nice pick me up and get a smile on our faces, but we dropped him as an investigator. 

I don't know if i told you about this guy that we met for the 2nd time and we watched the restoration movie and had a good lesson.  He is so awesome.  He loves going from church to church looking for the good things that he can add to his life.  He loves learning from every single person.  He told us that he loves when we come cuz we bring "good energy" (the Holy Ghost once again).  We only get to meet him on Sunday nights each week but he says he will try to come to church next week! I know that once he gets into the church and feels all the "good energy" in there, that he will be converted.  He is also reading the book of mormon.  This guy could not be more golden. I can't wait til he goes to church.

We finally met this lady again that we tracted into about 2 weeks ago.  She is a single mother.  When we taught her the first lesson about the restoration, she was all ears and really soaking it up and asking questions.  She said she could feel something good when we were talking (the HG obviously) and we could feel it too.  We did see her again and teach her about the plan of salvation.  Her son was there too and he was constantly saying, "mom, can we go to church?" The lesson went well so we challenged her to do a few things.  She didn't show up to church... as a matter of fact we had none of our investigators at church.  And we thought it was gonna be a big turnout too so that was a bummer. 

Speaking of church, i spoke in church Ha. I got called on friday to speak in the HP (heritage Park) ward(YSA)  about being converted.  So i prepared the talk and then on Sunday morning 10 mins before the Lowell Ward started, i got called to give my talk in that ward too.  So it worked out quite nicely.  I thought my talk went well especially the second time i gave it.  Here are some highlights of my talk:
-Being fully converted is a lifelong process.  We have to be constantly strengthening our conversion everyday to stay fully converted. 
-Alma the Younger after his "conversion" he spent the rest of his days laboring to bring salvation to others (Alma 36:24) and he could not rest (Alma 43:1)
-The lamanites that the sons of mosiah converted were fully converted.  In Alma chapters 22-27 there are characteristics of these people who are fully converted and we can compare ourselves to see if we are fully converted.  (minister unto others, willing to give all, you would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin, You keep all the commandments, You look unto Christ, You have patience in afflictions, you have love towards your brethren, you inquire of the lord, you fear to commit sin, and my favorite part is that THEY NEVER DID FALL AWAY!)  If we are like the converted lamanites and follow their example, we will never fall away.
-I ended with the challenge of being converted.  And i said that some of you might think you are converted.  I think that is awesome, PROVE IT.  Prove it to God that you are fully converted. In EVERYTHING you do and at ALL times.

So other than that, alot of this week was spent tracting/ trying to meet investigators and not having too much success, but we keep pressing forward.  I love my companionship because we never get down.  We are always keeping each others spirits lifted.  I learned this from my friend Adam but i love it: each door we knock we are one door closer to finding someone who is prepared.  For me, once i start tracting it is so hard to stop because i keep thinking, oh its gonna be the next house.  Or, what if its that house and i didn't knock it.  i don't want to miss the right person so i knock  each door.  I always feel bad stopping cuz i am constantly thinking, what if its that house? Ha so ya as you can see tracting is something that i can do.  Sure its annoying when door after door people say they aren't interested.  I just want to say back to them, "Are you interested in your everlasting salvation???!!!!"

Well thats all i got in me this week.  I hope you enjoyed it.  This is hard work, im not gonna lie.  But there are those few moments each day, sometimes very very small, that just lets you know that this church is true, that God is in this work, and that He knows me.  This is what im supposed to do. 
I love you all very much and look forward to hearing from you again next week.  Keep being so amazing and worthy of all the blessings the Lord bestows upon you.  Don't forget about conference! watch/read a talk or two per week.  Have a good one!

Elder Brady Johnson

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conference Week

First off i have to talk about Conference because it was simply incedible! Oh man it was the best two days ever!  Mom I'm with you on no one really standing out because they were all wonderful.  I mean i used to only like to listen to a few apostles and that was all i would pay attention to or learn from.  But this conference i was just soaking it all up from every individual.  SOOOOO AWESOME!  The main thing i learned is that apparently i need to get married right after my mission haha.  They were really stressing that ha.  Good Stuff.  I don't even know where to begin but i guess i will start with the whole underlying message of conference for me.  Almost every talk was about ACTION in some way or another.  They talked alot about: we feel sympathy for people in need, we take notes from conference about things we want to change, we see other examples and we would like to be like them, BUT WE DON'T EVER DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.  We have to turn all that into action.  DO SOMETHING!  Don't just sit and wait for something to happen.  Cause that change.  It takes effort to be a Latter Day Saint.  I love what Ezra Taft Benson said as quoted by President Eyring, "I Love this work, for it is work!' I also love what i learned from Elder Steven E. Snow: Hope alone does not lead us to succeed.  We must act! (he spoke in priesthood session and speaking of priesthood session, all those who didn't get to watch it, mainly women, WATCH IT ONLINE :)  Another thing in Priesthood was President Uchtdorf when he said, "Set our 'Do IT' switch- always to 'the NOW!"  Whenever we learn something that we need to do or change, do it now.  Too often we set it aside and then eventually forget about it.  If you don't do it now, it will never happen.  That is the major lesson that i learned in conference.  Every conference i would write things down that i wanted to do to become better.  but every conference i would set those notes aside and forget about them.  NOT THIS TIME!  I am taking advantage of hearing/learning from the Apostles of the Lord and i am going to act on what i have learned.  I hope that you all will do the same.  As President Packer said, its all about our desires.  Just have that desire first and let it grow. 
I have to tell you that one of my favorite talks was by Elder Quentin L Cook.  Mom and i was thinking about you the whole time and this kind of talk was so needed.  The sisters in the church really are incredible.  They do so much and deserve much appreciation.  So thank you to all you women in the church!!!!!!!  We only have Cambodian women in our ward that are active and i love them so much.  They are so solid!  So i can relate to his statement that women are more spiritual than men... but then again no surprise ha.
Just FYI i think my favorite talk was by Elder Scott on Sunday PM.  He gave that same talk in a CES fireside this fall that i saw while at SVU.  He is awesome.
Ok so a quick update on the goings on for this last week:  M. is progressing really well.  We've seen him about every other day and he has completely stopped smoking! CRAZY!  It only took a week.  That was a huge miracle.  He still has other challenges but he is doing his best. He is set to be baptized on the 24th of April! Pray for him!
So i don't remember if i told you about this other M.  He is a crazy guy who stands out side his house all day every day.  We pass him multiple times a day and we have contacted him a few times.  This week we got into his house and watched The Restoration movie.  He was quiet the whole time.  When the movie ended we asked one question and BOOM! he just started talking and talking and talking about nothing!  it was so random and impossible to follow.  It was also impossible to not laugh.  Elder W.and I were laughing out loud just in his face cuz it was so funny and we couldn't help it.  It was hilarious!  Elder A. kept a straight face but after we left he let it all out.  but ya it was the funniest experience ever.  I still don't know what happened in there ha.  we were there for like 45 mins and 2 times he just randomly stopped talking and went to the bathroom and then came back in right where he left off.  I feel like im not doing it any justice but it was hilarious.
Ok to answer some questions:
Im not getting transferred and i think our 3-some will stay together for at least one more transfer.  But im happy.  I feel like there is no real actual training going on but its fine with me cuz im used to things by just learning on my own.  Elder W is the senior comp.  We have a very nice apartment except for almost this whole week the heater didn't work so we were quite cold ha.  but its fixed now :)  We have a car yes.  IT is a mazda 3 and pretty dang nice.  Only Elder W gets to drive.  I want to drive so bad!  I guess i don't trust anyone driving except me ha.  Feel free to send my cleats.  For conference we didn't do any translating cuz we just hook it up to the satellite and there are professionals doing it for conference.  We watched Conference at our church building.  Sat AM it was us 3 plus the 2 spanish elders and then 3 other people.  Sat pm was just us 5 elders.  Sunday there was a bit more people there.  We are fed very very well by the members almost every night.  We ate at Y's house (cambodian) and it was so delicious!  My cambodian is.... ok but its just hard to practice when we don't have many cambodian investigators.  Oh and just to tell you how most days go,  we usually drive all over town to the people we have contacted once or twice and try to have a lesson but they are never home or don't have time.  So most days we teach like 2 lessons to investigators, tract for about an hour or two and then visit inactive members.  I love what Bro Luekenga told me, "not every day is good, but there is good in every day."  That is so true.  Most days just aren't good or successful but there are miracles in every day and i see them.  I have been blessed with great optimism since being out here and i am very grateful for it. 
Alright i need to go.   I hope i answered all the questions.  I love you all very much and pray for you every day!  Take what you have learned from conference and APPLY it in your lives! 
 ~"Remember, the future is as bright as your faith!''~

Oh and for P day today we are going to Boston for a few hours with the Cambodian elders in Lynn.  Last week we went to Cambridge to this huge and i mean HUGE stake center and met alot of other elders.